Now this is more like it:
Two Russian nationals have been named as suspects in the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
The men, using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are thought to be officers from Russia’s military intelligence service, the PM said.
The Metropolitan Police said the two men arrived at Gatwick Airport from Moscow on 2 March and stayed at the City Stay Hotel in Bow Road, east London.
On 4 March they travelled to Salisbury – having also visited for reconnaissance the previous day – where Mr Skripal’s front door was contaminated with Novichok.
Officers believe a modified perfume bottle was used to spray the door.
The pair flew from Heathrow to Moscow later that night.
See, this is what was missing during the outrage 6 months ago: evidence. Instead, we had the PM telling everyone it was most definitely Russia behind the attack, based on “intelligence information” and the fact the substance was created in the USSR and a Russian lab the most likely source. Now we have two named individuals and their movements, the British government position looks a lot more credible. However, it’s come rather too late. Here’s the explanation why:
The BBC’s security correspondent Gordon Corera said he understood the authorities identified the pair “a while back” and “may also know their real names” and had hoped by not making this information public, they could intercept them should they continue to travel.
I don’t buy this. The Russians might have bungled this hit, but I doubt they let their assassins wander around the world willy-nilly in the immediate aftermath. I suspect it’s more likely they were told to sit tight in Moscow for at least a year. I’m more inclined the reason this is being released now is because they’ve only just worked all this out, and didn’t have half this information back in March. This is interesting though:
Police said Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley were later exposed to Novichok after handling a contaminated container, labelled as Nina Ricci Premier Jour perfume.
Mr Rowley told police he found the box containing the small bottle and an applicator – all found to be counterfeit – in a charity bin.
He tried to put the two parts together and got some of the contents on himself. His partner Ms Sturgess applied some of the contents to her wrists and became unwell.
Again, this sort of information – how, where, and when – is important when establishing credibility. Thus far, this is the first time the public has been told anything other than “trust us”.
Speaking in the Commons, Prime Minister Theresa May said the government had concluded, from intelligence provided by UK agencies, that the men were part of the GRU intelligence service.
The poisoning was “not a rogue operation” and was “almost certainly” approved at a senior level of the Russian state, she said.
Sorry, but Theresa May has no way of knowing this. If anyone claims to know the intricate workings of the Russian state, including the degree with which government bodies wander off the reservation, they’re either lying or they subscribe to the all-seeing all-knowing Putin fallacy. The biggest problem I have with Putin ordering this attack is I don’t see any upside for him; yes, I’ve heard all the reasons multiple times, and I find none of them convincing. I’m also skeptical that when the Russian government gets its top assassins to knock someone off, they bungle it. There’s probably a lot more to this story than anyone outside of Russia knows, but I guess it doesn’t matter now.
He said there was little expectation that the pair would end up in a British court, but releasing the evidence would instead add pressure with the intention of “deterring Russia from doing something similar again”.
Oh yes, because the Russians are big on shame, it features large in their culture. For example:
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters the names of the Russian suspects “do not mean anything to me”.
He seems rattled.
The CPS is not applying to Russia for the extradition of the two men, as Russia does not extradite its own nationals.
Indeed, it’s in the constitution. Funny how Russia occasionally looks after its citizens rather better than free, enlightened nations like the UK.
The UK will meet the UN security council to discuss the case on Thursday.
Mrs May also said Britain would push for the EU to agree new sanctions against Russia.
But BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said many European countries would be “reluctant to tighten the screw on Russia”, fearing a loss of trade and energy.
Well indeed. Germany, for instance, has spent years sucking up to Russia and currently believe it is in their interests to side with Vladimir Putin over Donald Trump. Perhaps the real motivation behind Putin ordering a brazen Novichok attack was to see who would come to Britain’s aid, and who Germany and the EU would back. If so, it worked a charm.